Marriage Series: “Love’s Blind Spot” by Kerry Johnson

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This is the fifth message in my marriage series “Two Are Better Than One.” Follow this link if you missed any messages in this series. Today, I have another inspiring guest marriage post by Kerry Johnson about covering our spouse’s blind spots with love. Kerry recently published her first book titled “Grace for the Gaps: Rejoicing in Jesus on Life’s Journey.” In her book, Kerry shares how God’s grace covers our failings in our lives, in our marriages, and in our parenting. She shares how His word is truly a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. If you purchase Kerry’s book, and live in the U.S., let me know in the comment section below and you will receive 3 entries into my drawing of 1 of 2 $50 Brinker Restaurant gift cards and my marriage book “You Can Have a Happy Family.”

 

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Love’s Blind Spot

By Kerry Johnson

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, ESV).

We were a few miles over the Florida-Georgia border when I looked up from my book and noticed the tight formation of cars and semi-trucks around us.  I slammed my eyes shut, and my chest tightened as though a heavy boulder had begun pressing on my diaphragm.

Being in another car’s blind spot on I-75 is troubling for me because I’ve seen the results that a couple seconds of blindness can cause.  It can be deadly and can affect nearby drivers and cars.  So driving in a semi’s blind spot for a long period of time is nearly unbearable for me.  The weight on my chest seemed to increase as a small herd of 18-wheelers surrounded us.  One kept pace directly on our right—so close I could reach out and touch it.  Another truck was out ahead of us, and still a third semi took up the far right lane. Like puzzle pieces, cars fit the spaces in between.

I squinted, my gaze sliding to the right, hoping the gigantic truck next to us had magically disappeared.  Not so.  The reach-out-and-touch-me-truck was still right next door, a flag tattoo visible on the driver’s left arm as it rested on the steering wheel.

Inside our Expedition, I felt like a Terrier cornered by a Rottweiler, stuck against a fence with no chance of escape.  My hand crept to my husband’s forearm and gripped, spider-like tension radiating through me.  He didn’t need the reminder.  I knew he knew my fear.  I glanced at my husband’s profile, knowing well the map of his face and every nuance of expression.  I took in a deep breath after seeing the determination in his expression.

Even though Trevor didn’t feel the same (driving next to an 18-wheeler’s blind spot doesn’t faze him), he was aware of the panic blooming inside me.  A swell of appreciation washed over me—gratefulness for marriage, which God ordained for our wellbeing.

Marriage – the covenant between a man and a woman, husband and wife, between two very different people sharing a common bond of affection and faithfulness.  Marriage is intended for the creation and protection of the family and the generational passing of faith, and it’s a beautiful picture of Christ’s faithful love for the Church.

Trevor knew my deep-seated fear, and though he didn’t share it, he cared enough to acknowledge what I was going through and work to alleviate the situation.  My sensitive husband watched traffic carefully until he found a way out.  He sped up just enough to get us ahead of the 18-wheeler so we would no longer be boxed in.  I let out a deep sigh of gratitude.

This is what You intended, Lord.  This is 1 Corinthians 13, a love that’s kind, puts another first, and isn’t resentful when doing so.  In marriage, God calls us to cover our spouse’s blind spots with love.  Criticizing is easy and selfish.  Even though loving through insecurities and mistakes is tough and selfless, it can be done through Jesus’ help.  John 3:30 (NKJV) is a verse I pray often because on my own, I fail miserably:

“[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.”

After nearly thirteen years of marriage, I’m still learning to listen, respect, and defer, while Trevor has learned to understand, share, and protect.  Most importantly, we have both learned that Jesus must be the heart of our marriage.  There are times when vast differences in marriage frustrate and seem insurmountable, but it’s in those times that we have to stretch ourselves in love, trusting our Savior to be our all in all while learning to give our spouse the grace God gives us.

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love another” John 4:11 (NKJV).

kerry2Kerry Johnson lives in sunny Tampa Bay with her loud and very ticklish family. Patient hubby Trevor and their two boys, Cole and Chase, give the best hugs ever. She’s been published in Sanctified Together, Granola Bar Devotionals, and Tampa Bay’s Overflow Magazine, and her first novel semi-finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Genesis Contest in spring 2013. She has her Bachelor of Science in English Education and enjoyed seven blessed years as a stay-at-home wife and mom. She’s passionate about her family, reading and writing, exercise and chocolate (not necessarily in that order), and especially sharing the love of Jesus through her writing at http://candidkerry.wordpress.com/.

 

 

*Don’t forget to leave a comment below to receive an entry in my gift card and book drawing (U.S. residents only). Remember to let me know in your comment if you purchased Kerry’s book to receive 3 entries. Winners will be announced this weekend (July 20th & 21st).

 


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Marriage Series: “Scrambled Yoke” by Kerry Johnson

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This is the second post in my marriage series “Two Are Better Than One.” Remember, if you live in the U. S., every marriage post that you comment on through July 19th, you will receive an entry into a drawing for a $50 Brinker Restaurant gift card (can be used at Chili’s, On the Border, Macaroni Grill, or Maggiano’s) and my book “You Can Have a Happy Family: Steps to Enjoying Your Marriage and Children). Two winners will be announced. One on July 20th and the other on July 21st.

Monday, I shared how God first drew my husband’s and my heart together. My dear friend, Kerry Johnson, and I have similar stories of when we first met our spouses. Today, she’s shares how God drew her heart away from an unequally yoked relationship, and drew her heart to the one God had chosen for her, Trevor Johnson.

 

 

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SCRAMBLED YOKE

by Kerry Johson

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“Can I break the egg?” Chase was already pulling the kitchen chair toward the counter’s edge as I ripped open the brownie box. Of our two children, Chase is more interested in trying different foods and participating in the baking and cooking process. I’m not a particularly fancy cook, but our seven-year old enjoys assisting as I mix flour, eggs, sugar, oil, and anything else on the recipe card.

He especially loves to break eggs.

The recipe called for one large egg, and it lolled around the counter, drawing my younger son’s eyes and hands in quick order.

“I want to see the yellow part. What’s it called again?”

“The yolk.”

He smiled and repeated the word, his pink lips puckering up around the ‘y’ and the hard consonant ending sound. Chase was born with an abundance of exuberance, and his hands shook as he cracked the shell and split it into the mixing bowl with the water and oil.

Later, I thought about that funny-sounding word Chase had inquired about. Not the yellow, laid-by-a-chicken version, but the other spelling – yoke. The farming word that evokes images of two oxen plowing a field, their combined, identical strength accomplishing what two mismatched animals could not. As a verb, it means to be united together or joined with something else, in order to accomplish something.

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In the Bible, the word ‘yoked’ is pointedly placed in Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth.

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14

Paul received disheartening news about the church he had founded in the famously pagan city of Corinth. Believers were behaving irresponsibly and immaturely, and Paul’s letters were intended to pull them back to the gospel – Jesus Christ’s finished work on the Cross – and to God’s best for their lives. Paul instructed the Corinthian Christians that they were not to take God’s grace and run back to sin, reminding them, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

A few verses later, Paul reminds them – and us – that Christians “are the temple of the living God…Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord” (6:16 & 17).

The wisdom Paul shared with the sin-saturated Corinthian church – and us –  wasn’t meant to give Christ-followers a superiority complex or to make our lives miserable. Instead, it was given for our protection and out of love, because our Creator knows what is best for us.

That’s worth repeating over and over…God knows what is best for us.

In my early 20s, I learned firsthand why Paul warned of this very thing. Testing the truth of 2 Corinthians 6:14, I stepped into a relationship with a non-believer. Trevor and I had dated during the latter part of our teenage years, but we were weren’t ready to get married, and at 21 we broke up. Shortly after I began walking a rebellious path, yoking myself to a person who didn’t share my faith in Jesus Christ. He considered himself agnostic, and it took only a couple of months of dating before our foundational faith differences overflowed.

We were sharing a scrambled yoke.

The longer I dated him, the more stifling the burden became. He didn’t understand or appreciate the burden I carried for sharing my faith with him, which created a root of bitterness in me. There was a huge part of my heart that he would never identify with, and my soul struggled with his worldly leanings. Our earthly common ground was negated by the vast spiritual gulf between us. We were unbalanced – mismatched in the yoke God intended only for two believers.

2 Corinthians 6:14 is heavenly wisdom that sets boundaries intended to protect Christ-followers. A scrambled, unequal yoke will create cracks in the foundation of the family, which is His specific, loving design for His creation. Because the family – built upon a marriage between one man and one woman – is God’s best for His creation.

God knows what is best for us.

Eventually, the vast differences between this young man and I created enough dissension that the relationship dissolved. I pray for him and wish him well, and I learned that being unequally yoked with an unbeliever will lead me away from where I want to be in my relationship with Christ and bring only heartache and frustration. No amount of emotional love or sinful desire is worth that.

I praise God for His grace and mercy during my wayward years, and that I’m now equally yoked with my wonderful hubby.

“Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.”

~ 1 Corinthians 9:14

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Kerry Johnson lives in sunny Tampa Bay with her loud and very ticklish family. Patient hubby Trevor and their two boys, Cole and Chase, give the best hugs ever. She’s been published in Sanctified Together, Granola Bar Devotionals, and Tampa Bay’s Overflow Magazine, and her first novel semi-finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Genesis Contest in spring 2013. She has her Bachelor of Science in English Education and enjoyed seven blessed years as a stay-at-home wife and mom. She’s passionate about her family, reading and writing, exercise and chocolate (not necessarily in that order), and especially sharing the love of Jesus through her writing at http://candidkerry.wordpress.com/.

 

 

*Remember to enter to win the gc and book by leaving a comment below. Share how God drew you and your spouse’s hearts together.

*To celebrate this marriage series, the ebook version of my book “You Can Have a Happy Family” is free at Amazon today through Sunday (7/5-7/7).

 

 

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Monday’s Blog: “Tongue in Cheek” by Kerry Johnson

For the next few weeks, I have some wonderful guest bloggers lined up ready to share their inspiring messages. Today’s message is by my dear friend Kerry Johnson. She’s also featuring my article “God’s Unmerited Favor” on her blog tomorrow. Be sure to swing by there. Kerry is a phenomenal writer with a beautiful heart for the Lord. I pray her message on the power of the tongue blesses you as much as it’s blessed me.

 

 

Tongue in Cheek

By Kerry Johnson

 

“Would you hold that thing down?”  In my Novocain and fear-induced state, the words sounded surreal.  The entire left side of my face was numb, and drool was dripping out of the corner of my mouth.  The dentist looming over me was concentrating deeply on his task when he muttered the sarcastic words to the hygienist suctioning out my mouth.  The “thing” getting in his way was my tongue.

I have a personal confession to make.  My tongue is on the big side.  Okay, it’s very big.  I’ve frustrated dentists, grossed out elementary school friends, and even won a contest with this tongue—a who-can-touch-their-tongue-to-their-nose contest.

I can.

What exactly is the tongue, and what is its purpose?  The tongue is a powerful muscle on the bottom of our mouths.  Its main function as an organ is tasting food since much of the upper surface of the tongue is covered in taste buds.  It’s made up of groups of muscles and, like the heart, it’s always working.  The tongue is also able to expertly bind and contort itself to form letters when we speak.  That’s the kicker. The tongue is absolutely necessary for speech.

I’ve come to realize the amazing power and deadly influence my tongue can have.  It’s the bridge between my heart and thoughts directly to the people around me.  The tongue can be a tool to inflict pain or make someone’s day.  It can bless and it can curse.

As God laid this on my heart to write, a fearful uncertainty settled in my chest.  Not me, Lord.  The excuses came fast and furious.  Lord, I am the LAST person who should write about taming the tongue!  Hypocrite is spelled M-E.  Lord, I have diarrhea of the mouth!  Please don’t ask me to do this!

Still, I felt God pressing on my heart to write about my tongue.  And when I read Proverbs 21:23 one morning, the words washed over me like a holy fire: “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles” (NKJV).  Was I guarding my tongue for Jesus?  I want to guard my tongue in order to protect my soul – for You, Lord.

What kind of words do I say?  Or, for the writers out there, type?  Words that bless or words that curse? “The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness” (Proverbs 15:2, NKJV).  Am I wise or a fool?  Gossip, slander, and lying are foolish and self-serving.  They cause harm to the speaker and the hearer, and they’re welcome ammunition for the devil.

Words spoken in love, praise of others, expressions of gratitude, and encouragement build others up.  “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24, NKJV).

Many verses talk about the tendency of our tongues to be perverse.  The word perverse means something – or someone – that has turned away from what’s good or right and has become corrupt.  “He who has a deceitful heart finds no good, And he who has a perverse tongue falls into evil” (Proverbs 17:20, NKJV).  Our heart condition is evidenced by the words coming off our tongue.  “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4, NKJV).  I pray my tongue will be a “tree of life” and not cause me to “fall into evil.”

When we criticize others, who are made in God’s image and whom He loves as much as He loves us, we’re using our tongue for evil.  How can I use my tongue for God? How do we learn to have a “wholesome tongue” and keep it from causing harm?

There are three important exercises we can do with our tongues to glorify God:

The first exercise I recommend is not using your tongue.  How I struggle with this!  Remember as a child when your mom told you to, “Bite your tongue?”  Though I wouldn’t recommend that, I do recommend keeping your tongue still and giving your ears a workout instead.  “He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.  Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive” (Proverbs 17:27-28, NKJV).  Go on a word diet and listen instead of speaking.

Words are compared to arrows shot out of a bow because they fly fast and furious, especially when they’re emotionally driven.  “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19, NKJV).  Generally, I’ve found the higher quantity of words, the lower quality they become.  I’m learning to be more like my quiet, thoughtful husband – talk less, listen carefully, and consider more before speaking.  The result is less complaining and criticizing…less “word garbage.”

The second exercise I recommend for the tongue is using it for good—for God.  In the words of Peter Parker (aka Spiderman), “With great power comes great responsibility.”  We house power in our tongues.  Using that power for the encouragement and edification of others is God-glorifying and trains our hearts for selflessness.  “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29, NKJV).

Allow the Holy Spirit to add a measure of joy to someone’s life through your words.  Encourage a friend by complimenting their family or children, praise their parenting or homeschooling success, or pray together.  Edification can also be a word of encouragement in the Lord or a Bible verse that was helpful for you in a similar situation.

As a wife and mother, I seek to align my life with Proverbs 31.  “She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26, NKJV).  When we mix godly wisdom with edification and coat our words in love, God can accomplish much through us as mothers, wives, and friends.

Finally, the most important activity we are to do with our tongue is praise God.  “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25, NKJV).  Only through Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross can I ever be considered “faultless.”  He is the most precious gift ever given or received!

How can I not give Him constant praise as a result?  “Praise the Lord!  Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!  For His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 106:1, NKJV).

Although God doesn’t need our praise, His Word testifies that He wants to hear from His children.  “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15, NKJV).  Praise and thanksgiving offered to Jesus will lift our eyes off ourselves and our circumstances and onto Him where they belong.

I’ve learned that praising God has a wonderful purpose.  Our faith is strengthened and purified when we praise Him in the dark moments of our lives.  “I cried to Him with my mouth, And He was extolled with my tongue” (Psalm 66:17, NKJV).  When I’m speechless before God, whether through the trials or the blessings of this life, praise should never cease to roll off my tongue for Him and the wonders of His works.

After all, Jesus’ actions were drenched in grace for me, and my life should be drenched in praise for Him.  Ultimately, my prayer is that my tongue will speak life-giving words from my Savior.  David said at the end of his life, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2, NKJV).  For if the Word of the Lord is always on our tongue, we won’t have to worry about “holding that thing down.”

 

Kerry Johnson lives in sunny Tampa Bay with her loud and very ticklish family. Patient hubby Trevor and their two bouncing boys, Cole and Chase, give the best hugs ever. She’s been published in Sanctified Together, Granola Bar Devotionals, and Tampa Bay’s Overflow Magazine, and recently completed her first novel. She has her Bachelor of Science in English Education and enjoyed 7 blessed years as a stay-at-home wife and mom. She’s passionate about her family, exercising, chocolate, reading and writing, and especially sharing the love of Jesus through her writing at http://candidkerry.wordpress.com/.

 

 

*Thanks, Kerry, for this powerful and timely message on guarding our tongues!

If this message blessed you be sure to leave Kerry an encouraging comment below. 🙂

 

 


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